Off-Campus Study Clarifies ‘Home Tuition’ Policy for Approved Programs Amid Student Confusion

As students planning to study off-campus during the 2022-23 academic year apply for approved programs through Colgate’s Office of Off-Campus, many said they were surprised when they learned that even if they plan to go on a non-Colgate approved program with a lower price than a traditional semester on campus, they would still pay normal Colgate tuition. Off-Campus study, who instituted the ‘home tuition’ policy in 2013 to make abroad programs that vary in price greatly more equitable for students, said they try to make the information accessible for students as they navigate the application process. 

Director of Off-Campus Study Joanna Holvey Bowles said the policy was created to make abroad programs, which vary in price considerably, more equitable. Having students pay Colgate’s tuition also allows the university to ensure that a continued 60-64 percent of each graduating class can have the opportunity of going abroad. According to Bowles, the university uses the difference in tuition for students on abroad problems with costs lower than Colgate’s tuition to cover university expenses that keep the institution running while also enabling Colgate’s high rates of off-campus study — two thirds of students study off-campus at some point in their time on campus (with the exception of recent years impacted by the pandemic).

“The policy allows the university to make study abroad more accessible for all students of all majors and expanded the list of destinations available to students, regardless of financial means, just as it does for on-campus programs,” Bowles said. “In short, financial aid packages are now portable for students who select from among any approved program list or Colgate study groups, thereby encouraging students to choose programs based on quality and fit, rather than cost.”

Since implementing this policy, Bowles said Off-Campus Study has done everything in their power to make it as transparent to students as possible.

“This is such an important process for students to understand that we make them aware of it as soon as possible,” Bowles said. “All the information about off-campus study is available in the Colgate University catalog including that students are charged tuition for all semester off-campus study programs, whether sponsored by Colgate or not.”

By including this information in the university’s off-campus study website, brochures and student information sessions, Bowles hopes that Colgate students will feel well-informed as they go about this process. Even so, Bowles has noticed some instances of confusion among the student body regarding this tuition policy. Sophomore Hayden Gilbert, who plans to go abroad to Italy next spring, was unaware of this policy when he initially applied to the program.

“I have been informed through friends about Colgate’s tuition policy regarding abroad, but none of this was communicated during the application process,” Gilbert said. “If I had known about their tuition policy, I still would have applied to go abroad because it is such an exciting experience that I have been looking forward to, but with that being said I definitely felt upset that Colgate did not communicate this policy at all to their students, as if it was not for my friends I would not have heard about this.”

Sophomore Sydney Goldberg said she had a similar experience feeling blindsided by the policy after she applied to an approved program not run by Colgate in Australia next spring. 

“I personally do not feel the policy is 100% fair, as the majority of approved program tuitions are significantly less expensive than Colgate’s tuition. During the time that a student is away on an approved program, the student is not using up Colgate’s resources such as classroom spaces, professors and many other aspects that are built into the tuition price.”

Gilbert worries for students who may have changed their abroad plans had the policy been made more explicit earlier in the process. He feels that the Office of Off-Campus Study does not prioritize telling this information to students upfront.

“I am aware that all of this information is available on Colgate’s abroad website, but I do find it alarming that this information was not communicated as much as other abroad information,” Gilbert said.

Bowles hopes that students will make an appointment with the Office of Off-Campus Study to discuss their approved program plans and to review the steps prior to the application process. These meetings serve as an opportunity for students to review the financial planning process, as well as the curriculum, housing, program provider application process and other features of the program they wish to apply to. While Goldberg made one of these meetings with the department to discuss her program, she was disappointed to find that the tuition policy was not brought up. She hopes that the Office of Off-Campus Study can be more clear about this to future students planning to go abroad.

“I think this communication could be improved by including it in the application. There are multiple tabs that need to be filled out on the application, and one of them should be a page explaining how the tuition policy works and then you must sign your name at the bottom to ensure everybody reads it. This would clear up a lot of the frustrations and confusion my friends and I have been experiencing since we heard about this policy.”